ZHOB - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said it is time for Pakistan and India to set aside their hostilities.

“The Indian prime minister came to Lahore and gave us his few hours. It is high time the countries put aside their hostilities,” he said and added “Goodwill gestures are the solution to many an ill.”

The prime minister hoped Pakistan-India ties would improve in the days ahead and the spirit of goodwill generated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit would continue to prevail.

Talking to media persons at Zhob airport following the groundbreaking of Zhob-Mughal Kot Road and Qila Saifullah-Waigam Rud Road, Nawaz said, “Goodwill gestures are solution to many problems.”

Nawaz was responding to questions about the recent visit of the Indian prime minister to Lahore and its impact on bilateral ties. He recalled how US President Barack Obama demonstrated his statesmanship that led to improved ties with Iran and inking of the nuclear deal. “All issues can be resolved through negotiations,” Nawaz said. He said Modi’s visit was a step in this direction.

Meanwhile, addressing a huge gathering after performing groundbreaking of the upgradation of 81km-Zhob-Mughal Kot Road and 128km-Qila Saifullah-Waigam Rud Road, Nawaz Sharif said Rs 200 billion would be spent in the next three to four years in Balochistan for alleviating its backwardness.

He said there was no precedent in the history of Balochistan that construction work on massive roads network continued on such a fast-track basis.

He said upgrade of these roads would be completed within next two years, besides completing 2,428kms roads network, linking the other provinces with Balochistan.

He said as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, 194-km-long road from Gwadar to Khushab, would be inaugurated next month whereas 454km Khushab-Panjgur-Basima road be completed by December 16 by the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO).

The prime minister also referred to Kalat-Quetta-Chaman and Kharan phase-1 roads which would be completed next year while feasibility work on Zhob-Jandola Road was under process. He said uplift of the province was the top priority of his government.

“The project would open up opportunities of trade and business for the whole region and help remove backwardness of the province. He hoped all the political parties would collectively work for the national prosperity and against terrorism, playing their due part for the durable peace and prosperity.

The prime minister said he could not perform such tasks alone and thanked the political leaders accompanying him for their support.

The prime minister said had such rights been given to Balochistan in the past and had there been continuity in the development projects, there would not have been any backwardness.

Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai, Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri, Adviser to PM on National Security Nasir Janjua, high officials, a large number of parliamentarians, political leaders and notables were present on the occasion.

About the development of Gwadar Port, the prime minister said it was a separate entity and required special attention, so a state-of-the-art airport was under construction.

The Karachi-Gwadar costal highway was also constructed during his previous government and now the NHA would be tasked to rehabilitate it, he added.

The prime minister said Gwadar would be connected with the entire Central Asian Republics (CARs) and cited China-Germany goods railroad which also offered greater connectivity opportunities to Pakistan. “We have to see it in a wider perspective, which can be beneficial for industry and agriculture sectors,” he added.

The prime minister also questioned power shortfall created by the previous regime. Now his government was burdened to overcome such shortcomings, he said, adding the government was not oblivious to its responsibility in this regard.

The prime minister said the government was thankful to China for investing in the power projects, including Bin Qasim coal-fired power plants.

The country had coal reservoirs in abundance which were being tapped for generating power. The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline would help the component countries of the project to get ample gas supply and overcome gas shortage, he added. “The country’s indicators are showing upward trends and we have to move forward,” he said.

About ties with the neighbouring countries, the prime minister said his adviser on national security had held a positive meeting with his Indian counterpart to sort out issues, followed by a visit of the Indian external minister.

He thanked Narendar Modi for visiting Lahore en route from Kabul to India. “We had positive talks,” he added.

He said issues could be resolved through talks by applying sagacity and forbearance and referred to Iran’s nuclear deal which was brokered through dialogue.

The prime minister also congratulated the new chief minister of Balochistan and the first female speaker of the provincial assembly.

Communication Secretary and National Highway Authority (NHA) Chairman Shahid Ashraf Tarar said various mega road construction projects worth billions of rupees would bring economic prosperity. He said these projects would help link northern parts with southern and western areas of the country.

Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri said they were concentrating upon good governance and uplift projects to generate business activities.

He praised the vision and leadership of the prime minister for according priorities to the development of backward areas of the country.

JUI-F Amir Maulana Fazlur Rehman, extending his full support to the CPEC, said it would become a vital ingredient of regional stability and peace. The economic prosperity was linked with the overall security situation, he added.

Balochistan National Awami Party leader Hasil Khan Bezanju said communication networks could bring economic revolution and societal change.

He credited the prime minister for laying foundation stones of major development projects, including Gwadar Port.

Awami National Party leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the whole nation was united against terrorism and stressed unity among the ranks of all political parties. Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said Pakistan for the first time had good relations with its neighbouring countries, adding development projects like CPEC, TAPI and IP gas etc would change fate of the region. The PM’s vision would take Pakistan forward on the path of progress, he added.

Pakhtunkhwa Awami Mili Party chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai, offering full support to the development projects, said people of the province had been kept deprived of development packages in the past.